Paddle recommendations for a 5'1" senior female

Buying my first paddles for the sea kayak Delphin 150. Any advice given my height and not very strong upper body?

The Delphin 150 is a fun boat!

Low back deck and freeboard should afford you equal range of steep and deep or low & long strokes. This leads to the question of whether for your average forward paddle stroke, is your top hand below shoulder height or above? If below, a longer narrow (top to bottom of blade edges) or above shoulder a short stout blade.

So, steep and deep or low & long?

Past that, lighter is better.

See you on the water,
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Try a traditional paddle, I prefer Aluet style over Greenland after making and using both

I agree, if you prefer something that will put less stress on your upper body give a Greenland paddle or the like a try. Or a smaller-bladed Euro paddle. It’s hard to tell exactly what length will work best for you without paddling, but I imagine it’ll be on the shorter side.

Just make sure you do not get talked into a bigger blade, you need a smaller one and for speed higher cadence. Whatever type of paddle you get.
Once in a while you still bump into a guy who thinks that the solution for a small person is a bigger blade. But they aren’t going to be around to pay for the surgery when you blow out your shoulder.


I agree with the thought of using a Greenland paddle (GP). I also paddle a Delphin 150 as well as a Pygmy Arctic Tern and use a GP.

My 72 year old, barely 5’, 115lb wife isn’t really that strong or that athletic (although she makes up for it with a lot of determination!).

She has three paddles: a 220cm Aquabound Stingray (her first paddle), an 88in WRC Greenland paddle custom made for her, and a 200cm Werner Cyprus with the smaller diameter shaft.

She “tends” toward being a high angle paddler, but not extremely so. By far her favourite paddle is the mid-sized Cyprus although she enjoys using the GP once in a while. She feels the mid-sized Cyprus gives her a little more control and is a little more forgiving than the GP ans she loves its light (23.5oz) weight.

I also suggest a Greenland paddle. I’m 70 and have been using GP’s almost exclusively for 12 years with boats with similar beam to yours. In fact when I switch to a conventional blade paddle I find I have low tolerance for them any more. So much more comfortable with the GP and I can keep up with any of my friends using it and with less strain or effort. At 5’ 4" with shortish arms, I use a 213 cm that was custom made for me – yours would likely be a bit shorter. There are many makers of wooden GP’s around the country and several on Etsy (per link below). Makers will work with you to determine best metrics and style to suit your body proportions and usage, including shaping the loom to the size of your smaller hands.

I would echo that you should look for a light paddle (e.g. carbon fiber shaft and blades) with a smaller blade. The definitive article on paddle length is

Just under 5’3” here. I began paddling with a 220cm low-angle blade, tried 215cm a year or so later and immediately preferred that and bought one. Years later I tried a 205cm high-angle blade and preferred that and switched over. Even so, after several more years I noticed that it still felt like I could go a tad shorter and get better rotation. I called Werner, who made 200cm Shuna and Cyprus paddles as stock sizes, BUT they said shops did not keep those in inventory. I bought one of each directly from Werner and confirmed that yes, they finally fit me just right.

I have since sold my sea kayak and am paddling a surf ski with a 205cm wing paddle. However, for sea kayaks I would still use a 200cm paddle, no question about it.

In your case, try to demo a 205cm paddle because they are more common than 200cm. If you can try both, by all means do so.

I still own the two 200cm paddles. In the unlikely event you live within reasonable distance from me, I’d be happy to sell them at half price for the practically-unused Cyprus, and less than half price for the Shuna, which I used as my normal go-to paddle but is still in excellent condition.

I’m 5’6” with a 22” wide boat and a high-angle style and I like my 205 cm GP. I also have. 210 Euro paddle that is fine, but at this stage I’d prefer it to be 205.

Damn, you people are old! What my father in law said when I hit 50.

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Not Old…just happen to be the same age as some old people…YMMV


Old is a state of mind. Older, is a fact


For a long time (and somewhat still) I’ve said the “OLD” was 20 years older than I am now. It’s getting to the point where there are fewer & fewer “OLD” people :rofl:

Today is one of those birthdays with a zero on the end. Not too sure if I’ll see two more and probably not three. Celebrated so far by a lap around the local lake - air temp ~44, wind ~ 9mph water temp ??? cold. Had a great time but my hands were cold.


Happy birthday @rival51

I had a very similar birthday 2 days ago. I should be good for at least one more.

81F and sunny here on the South Carolina coast but no paddling for me today, just turkey!

Not if you’re 90

Light CF like a Werner with small shaft. High or low angle? 200-205 would be guess for high. Smaller range blade size.

Can you try any in club, kayak shop, or friends? Budget always comes into play. Look for used also. My favorite paddle is a Ikelos 205 I got used on eBay although I bought 5 other new Werner paddles.

A paddle with a blade like the aquabound stingray is a good option for a paddle that doesn’t require an excessive amount of effort due to the small blade.

If you are a shallow paddler, then a 220 to 230cm paddle is a good length. I’d personally suggest a fiberglass shaft and paddle, which will give a light, strong paddle for reasonable money. I just bought my wife a Nimbus Kiska for my wife, which has a smaller blade that will be easier on her shoulders than her present paddle that has a mid-size blade similar to the Werner Cyprus.

First, a game.
Grab your shovel from your backyard…or borrow one.
Keeping your hands a typical paddling position apart (the “box”), place about 5-10 lbs of weight on the spade. Grasp the handle with one hand close to the end of the handle, and lift. Now, shift your hands (keeping the same spacing) close to the spade and lift again. Quite likely the difference will impress you; same weight, mush less work with a shorter “outboard” of the lever.

Anecdotal. My wife (who will not ever engage in social media, otherwise I’d have her write this) is 5’2". While aerobically fit, she’s not particularly strong at 100lbs! She has many years experience in sea kayak play paddling in rough conditions, multi-day tripping, and also fitness paddling (in a trainer sprint kayak). Took years and many paddles, but she settled on a 195cm for both her wing paddle and flat paddle. The latter is a low aspect blade type, Werner Cypress. She will adjust the wing closer to 200cm if in the sprint trainer.

Blade type considerations.
Sorry, a bit geeky, but the blade type will have a significant effect on the work load for a given length. A high aspect (think greenland) will feel easier than a low aspect (Werner Cypress) if tested in the same length, as the center of effort is farther from the tip (closer to user) with a high aspect blade. While the majority of my experienced paddling friends will use a low aspect blade, one of them - a world class coach and expedition paddler - uses a Werner Kalliste, which is marketed as a “low angle” paddle - yet paddles with a “high angle” technique. Her paddle is very slightly longer (5cm?) than when paddling with something like a Cypress.
Which leads to -
Drop the “high angle” or “low angle” designations. Just get the right gear ratio and you can do either very well. I strongly suspect that many who disdain the so-called “high angle” technique came to their opinion because their paddle was so long that it forced their upper hand into a height so far above their shoulder that even a race kayaker’s shoulders would hurt!